Hardware and heart-ware needed
in Land Offices
NST-PROP By Salleh Buang
There has been much “official good news” publicised about the
computerisation of the Land Offices throughout the country. However, on the
quiet, friends in-the-know tell me that the situation is not really as
bright as it ought to be.
One source, a senior land administrator in a northern State, informed me
recently that the computerised land registration system in his office works
well “only half the time ... at best three or sometimes four days in a
week”. At other times, it is down, resulting in the workload piling up and
waiting time increasing. Certainly, it isn’t a very bright picture.
What about the services, in terms of repair, maintenance and so on, from the
system’s vendor? His swift reaction surprised me. No such service! This
state of affairs has been going on for some time, he added, with weary
Since this is a clear case of default by the system’s vendor or maintenance
contractor, why hasn’t appropriate action been taken against the party
It may be because the terms of agreement between the vendor/contractor and
the Land Office didn’t spell out exactly the former’s scope of duties. If my
assumption is correct, probably adequate legal advice had not been sought in
drafting the agreement between the parties.
My chat with the civil servant reminded me of what happened more than two
decades ago, when the Companies Registry (now called Companies Commission of
Malaysia) computerised its operations. Instead of a faster service, things
became painfully slow. It was only much later that the new system functioned
as promised. Are we seeing the same thing now in our Land Offices?
It was in September 2003 when Dr Tan Kee Kwong, then Deputy Minister of Land
and Co-operative Development, announced the Federal Government’s allocation
of RM200 million to implement the National Computerised Land Registration
System. Following this, the Government provided new ICT equipment to 107
locations throughout the country. Indeed, a lot of money and a lot of
equipment! But were they put to good use?
Everybody knows that computer hardware will not function without the
necessary software. And if the software is not compatible with the hardware,
it won’t work either. If the software is corrupted (due to virus attack,
poor handling or maintenance), the system will also fail. If the necessary
data is not available, the system will not perform well – even with the best
hardware in the world. Finally, despite the best hardware and software, the
result will still be disappointing if the system operators are not properly
Simply put, we need excellent hardware, software and the right “heartware”
to effectively computerise the Land Offices in this country. No machine on
earth, no computer program devised by human brain, can produce any good,
lasting result if the requisite human element (the heartware) is missing.
In March last year, Chief Secretary Tan Sri Samsudin Osman launched the Land
Application and Monitoring System (LAMS) for Negeri Sembilan, aimed at
ensuring a faster and more efficient delivery system. He announced then that
the system was successfully implemented in Perak, where 31,000 land
applications had so far been processed. I am not certain of the LAMS status
in the other States.
Besides LAMS, there are a few land systems in operation, all running on
their own and waiting for intergration.
In Penang, there is e-Tanah, “an integrated and fully computerised system to
handle the management and administration of Land Offices in order to improve
the speed and quality of service delivery to the public for all land related
transactions”. Penang was chosen for the pilot project and upon its
successful completion, e-Tanah would be extended to the other States.
Other systems are available in Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak and
Penang, which have been implemented with the specific purpose of
facilitating revenue collection.
In Selangor, there is a special system to process applications for strata
titles, while Perak has one for the disposal of State land via alienation,
known as Sistem Permohonan Pelupusan Tanah Secara Pemberianmilik or SPTP. In
Terengganu, there is e-Consent, which is to facilitate the giving of consent
in matters of transfers and charges.
A strong, positive feature of e-Tanah is that it is web-based and thus, able
to integrate and standardise all existing systems, such as SPTB (Computerised
Land Registration System), SPHT (Computerised Revenue Collection System) and
It also takes into consideration security features. When fully installed and
running, at least 24 transactions can be made online – including disposal of
land, registration of land titles, issuance of strata titles, surrender and
re-alienation of land and revenue and quit rent collection.
Security is obviously a vital feature of any system, especially one that’s
ICT-dependent. In a question and answer session in Parliament on Nov 23 last
year, Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk S. Sothinathan
admitted that at least 27 cases of fraudulent practice in land dealings and
land registration had been reported to Selangor’s director of Lands and
Mines. Of these, three have gone to trial, one has been disposed of and the
remaining 24 cases are still under investigation.
Expected to be fully operational by 2008, e-Tanah is touted to be
“customer-friendly”. Under it, members of the public can get information
quickly and pay quit rent easily at one-stop agencies, retrieve reports from
technical agencies and expect business processes and decision-making to be
completed without any delay.
Exciting developments indeed! Mention must also be made of the newly drafted
National Land Policy, now being fine-tuned by a working group under the
Federal department of Lands and Mines. The project leader of the group, Dr
Azimuddin Bahari, said recently that one of the strategies of the new policy
is to implement corporate culture and modernisation in the Land Offices
through ICT. One key objective of the policy is to create “a world-class
land administration and management system”.
On paper, e-Tanah and the ICT strategy outlined in the National Land Policy
look very promising and extremely encouraging. But having heard my northern
State land administrator friend’s problems even at this initial stage of a
stand-alone (non-integrated) computerised land registration system, I cannot
help but wonder whether the future is indeed going to be as bright as it has
been painted by the authorities.
I do not doubt the seriousness and commitment of the authorities in
initiating the plan. My doubts concern the implementation capacity on the
Salleh Buang is senior advisor of a company specialising in competitive
intelligence. He is also active in training and public speaking and can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org